Saturday, 19 January 2013

Beyoncé and, like, The Rules of Feminism

"You know, equality is a myth, and for some reason, everyone accepts the fact that women don't make as much money as men do. I don't understand that. Why do we have to take a backseat? I truly believe that women should be financially independent from their men. And let's face it, money gives men the power to run the show. It gives men the power to define value. They define what's sexy. And men define what's feminine. It's ridiculous."
Chances are you've already read it, but the above quote comes from Beyoncé in her recent interview with GQ magazine.
From the moment the magazine hit the stands, Beyoncé's credibility has been questioned and debated, largely because this interview was accompanied by a photoshoot of her posing in her knickers. Many articles, mainly from white middle-class women, telling us that this just isn't feminist enough for their liking.

Despite this, I'm sure I'm not alone in seeing the brilliance of Beyoncé using an interview with a, for lack of a better term, "lad's mag" as a platform to discuss sexism and the patriarchy. Will everyone who looks at her pictures read what she said? Probably not. But even if it's just a minority, surely it's still relevant? It's easy to preach to the converted, to express those views to an audience that is, stereotypically speaking, more hostile toward them as a brave move.

Maybe some readers will read her feminist views and mock them. Maybe only one reader will even bother to look at the words. That's still one more person than if she hadn't done the interview. Everything has to start somewhere, and most beginnings are small. Maybe if these opinions are expressed more often in this way, they will become less laughable and more "normal".

What gives any of us the right to decide that Beyoncé isn't enough of a feminist to discuss the gender pay gap?  It's these very restrictions, these rules of what you can and can't do as a feminist, that scare people away from the movement.

The issue of intersectionality has been discussed a lot recently, yet some of us still insist of excluding some women from the conversation. There's no such thing as a perfectly molded feminist, so stop looking for one. 

Beyoncé has inspired many women, if I was a Mother, I would be more than happy for my child to see her as a role model.
A lot of the criticisms I've read about this feature seem all too similar to slut-shaming. Beyoncé's a successful woman, her career would hardly have struggled if she'd opted not to appear in GQ. When I saw the cover of that magazine, I didn't see someone who was being exploited, who'd been "reduced" to doing this sort of photoshoot. I saw someone who is very much in control of her image, of her career, embracing their sexuality. Society may be guilty over-sexualising women, in the spotlight or not, but that doesn't mean we, as women, have to respond by rejecting our sexuality. It's all about choice; if you're not comfortable with that kind of publicity, then you should absolutely have the choice of not taking part in it, without being judged. Similarly, if you're in a position where you're happy to do that and no one's forcing you into it, then you should be able to go for it, without having everything else about you invalidated.

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